Out of 25 shutdowns throughout the continent, Algeria is responsible for six incidents.
Rabat – Algeria’s government ordered the highest number of documented internet shutdowns in Africa in 2019, according to advocacy group Access Now.
Out of 25 shutdowns throughout the continent, Algeria is responsible for six incidents, followed by Ethiopia with four incidents.
Benin, Zimbabwe, Eritrea, Gabon, and Liberia also appear on the list of incidents.
Internet shutdowns in Africa rose by 50% between 2018 and 2019.
Governments say internet shutdowns are imposed to fight “fake news, hate speech or content promoting violence,” and as precautionary measures for “public safety, national security, school exams, and technical problems,” according to Access Now.
However, the advocacy group argues that shutdowns are explicit attempts to stifle the “free flow of information, deny people their right to access information, and free expression.”
Access Now reports that 2019 shutdowns were longer, geographically targeted, and blocked citizens’ access to social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
Although the Algerian government does not publicly announce internet shutdowns, internet observatories such as NetBlocks have presented evidence of outages during protests in the country.
In February 2019, Algerian citizens began protesting against former president Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s bid for a fifth term in office. Internet outages from state-run Algerie Telecom sprung up in major demonstration zones such as Tizi Ouzou and Bejaija to prevent protestors from sharing information.
The Algerian government restricted internet access in September 2019 through Algerie Telecom as citizens led public demonstrations against the influence of army leaders in the civic space. The affected areas included Tizi Ouzou, Bouira, Setif, Jijel, and parts of Algiers.
Internet shutdowns are generally understood as an attempt to curtail public dissent, restrict freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, and limit news coverage of demonstrations.